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October 15, 2009

Joe Girardi


THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Joe Girardi.

Q. Joe, could you talk a little bit about what A.J. Burnett has meant for the team? I'm talking more about in the clubhouse where he's sort of lightened it up a little bit.
JOE GIRARDI: A.J. has been a big part of the looseness in the clubhouse. His attitude is great. He brings a lot of energy every day. He was the one that started with the "walk-off pie" that seemed to have a lot of excitement around it. Fans anticipating it. But he has been big in the clubhouse.
Ever since Spring Training when he started taking pitchers out, as well as CC, to do things after practice. As we all know Spring Training for pitchers can be kind of light. And they have their afternoons free. He spent a lot of time with the pitchers.

Q. Over the last ten or twelve years Angels were the only team with a winning record against the Yankees. What is it about that matchup that's so difficult?
JOE GIRARDI: They're a very good team. There's been a lot made of what has happened between the Angels and the Yankees the last ten years. And I think sometimes it gets -- what's not talked about is how good of a team they've been over the last ten years. World Series teams, ALCS's, winning their division, winning 100 games. They've been very tough on the Yankees. They're different than most teams. To me they remind me of teams that when I came up and played, it was like playing the St. Louis Cardinals; there was going to be a lot of action. One thing that you can't do is get caught up in the action. You have to continue to make pitches on them.

Q. Joe, just as housekeeping, can you announce anything about your rotation or your roster?
JOE GIRARDI: A.J. will be Game 2. Andy will be Game 3. Game 4 we're undecided. And our intentions are to add Freddy Guzman to the roster and take Eric Hinske off. For this round.

Q. Could you explain that?
JOE GIRARDI: We thought we could use another speed guy in this round. We've had some success doing those type of things late in games. And in seven-game series, felt that it could come up late in games. As we saw the games against Minnesota were very close. And sometimes you can use a couple of pinch runners. And if Gardy (Gardner) gets a start, then you don't have a pinch-runner. It just frees us up to do more things.

Q. We saw bunch of blown saves throughout every Division Series. What kind of comfort level do you have with Rivera back there? And how much of an advantage do you think it is that you guys have him and other teams, whoever they have, really isn't Rivera?
JOE GIRARDI: I think the Yankees have been very blessed to have Mo over this long run that he has had. Obviously, you know, if you blow a save during the regular season, you have a lot of time to make up for that. But if you blow a save during the postseason, in a short series, there's not quite so much time. He has meant so much to this organization and to the success of this organization in the playoffs. I'm glad we have him. You feel very comfortable when you put Mo in the game. And we're not afraid to go to him for four outs. We have talked about we won't abuse him because we know we have to keep him for the whole series. But there are times the way there are scheduled days off that we can go to him for four outs. And that's important as well.

Q. What specific things about Mike Scioscia and the way he runs his team have impressed you over the years? And when you are matched up with a guy who is considered one of the best in the sport, how much do you enjoy that challenge?
JOE GIRARDI: You really enjoy that challenge. I have had a lot of respect for Mike for a long time. Played against him. Had a chance to coach against him when I was on Joe Torre's staff here. To manage against him. He plays a fast-paced brand of baseball. He is aggressive. And I think he understands very well that the pressure it puts on the pitcher-catcher relationship when you do that. And the things, as I've talked about, that you do to combat that, there are some things. But the bottom line is you have to make your pitches.
I've always had a lot of respect for the way he's run his club. I felt that in a way he's been the face of that club for the last ten or so years. And they've been very, very successful under him. He's not afraid to sit a guy down if he feels he has to sit a guy down. He seems to have a very good handle on his club.

Q. You have had a couple of days, I guess, to ponder this if you wanted to: The three games you managed against the Twins, your first three games as a postseason manager, was there anything different as you look at it now? Is there any difference to managing in the postseason that you weren't expecting before?
JOE GIRARDI: Once the game starts, to me, it's very similar because in our division you manage to win each game. And obviously knowing that you play 14 days in a row, you might sit a guy down here and there. But we don't have to worry about those things.
Was there a huge difference? I didn't think so. Because you have your parts and you understand what you need to do with your parts, and you just go from there. There's anticipation for the series when you have a lot of days off. During the regular season you're playing every day and you don't really do that. But to me, it feels pretty much the same.

Q. Joe, I know you're looking at this from afar and from the outside, but can you admire the way they've built their organization and the way they've built their teams over the years as well?
JOE GIRARDI: I do. I think their owner Arte Moreno has done a great job. They've kept their staff pretty much intact there. They've played pretty much the same type of baseball under Mike Scioscia. I do admire. They have a lot of home-grown talent. They do a very good job in that. So from top to bottom they've done a wonderful job.

Q. Can you talk about CC and the possibility of rain in Game 1 and how comfortable you would be bringing him back. Is there any scenario that exists that you would start someone else and bring him back if there's a delay?
JOE GIRARDI: I don't really worry about that because that's not something I can control at this point. I feel we're prepared to play tomorrow. And I think we're going to play tomorrow. As far as the rain, I think the rain is an issue right now. From what I understand, it's going to be chilly tomorrow night. I don't think the rain is going to be a huge issue. It could change. You get different forecasts all the time. Today I had a forecast it was going to start raining at two, I saw one at noon, and then I saw one at eight in the morning. So only Mother Nature knows that. So you kind of cross that bridge when you have to. But our plans are play tomorrow and CC is on the hill.

Q. Joe, you knew before you signed CC that he was going to be a good presence in your clubhouse. Was there something that he did specifically in Spring Training or early in the season that sort of cemented that for you?
JOE GIRARDI: I think right away he started taking pitchers out. They went over and saw the Orlando Magic play more than a couple of times. And there seemed to be a closeness there that they developed amongst the pitching staff.
The other thing that I enjoy about CC is he's the same every day. And I don't mind a pitcher being very quiet on the day he pitches and very focused. It doesn't really matter. To me what matters is what works for you that day. And CC is one of those guys that's relaxed on the day he pitches. And I admire that.

Q. Joe, you talked about things that A.J. and CC had done in order to create this loose atmosphere. Are there specific things you did this year that maybe you didn't do last year to sort of keep it going or keep it alive?
JOE GIRARDI: The only thing that we did that I didn't do last year is we had a pool tournament. As far as like people talk about "did you change a lot?" my rules didn't change, but what changed is the pieces in the clubhouse. It's probably a little bit more boisterous group than last year. It's a different group. And I can't tell you what's going to happen this off-season. The clubhouse could be different again next year depending on the people that come. But the tone of the clubhouse is basically made up of the people in there, not necessarily me. Because I really haven't changed a lot.

Q. When was the pool tournament?
JOE GIRARDI: Spring Training. About ten or twelve days into the two-month period.

Q. Joe, there's been a point of emphasis in sports across the board about getting it right. Referees, umpires, getting it right. Do you have any boundaries about to what extent you should go to get it right? And how would you feel as a manager to have the option, one option per game to challenge a call at second or third or home plate?
JOE GIRARDI: Someone asked me that question last week, and I said I was probably against being able to throw a red flag because I was worried about the rhythm, that it takes away from the game. Now, I wouldn't be against -- and someone brought this to my attention, what if you were able to press a button, and they looked at it, and you had another umpire upstairs, and they looked at it right away, and they get it ready in 30 seconds. I would not have a problem with that. I think there's some benefits to that.
You know, the bottom line is you want things to be right in the game, and they're not always going to be right. I'm going to see things as a manager that I think that I would say he was safe and he was called out, and then I'm going to look at it and I'm going to say, you know, he was out. I was wrong. As a hitter I used to think balls were balls and they were strikes. You go back and look at it. I don't think you can do it with balls and strikes, but I think you can do it with some calls. If you can do it quickly, I would be all for it.

Q. Joe, even if Joba is in the pen for you guys in this series, will Hughes still be your eighth-inning guy?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, I mean Hughesy has been our eighth-inning guy. I can't tell you exactly how the game is going to go. I can't tell you how the match-ups are going to go. I don't want to be locked in where I come back and I say, "You said he was your eighth-inning guy." There's things that you can't control during the course of the game. But going in, I mean, our plan is to use Hughes as our eighth-inning guy.

Q. Joe, this morning Dave Eiland was talking about Hughes and the adjustments he's made over the past few days. Regardless of what inning you use him in, what is your confidence level giving him the ball based on what did he against the Twins?
JOE GIRARDI: It's high. Extremely high. I know that he had some -- a little bit of a struggle. But it's not like he gave up a five-run inning at any point. I feel very good about Hughesy when he goes out there, whenever he goes out there. He challenges hitters. He throws quality strikes. Sometimes you're going to give up hits. That's the bottom line. It's going to happen. But I feel really good about it.

Q. What's about the longest period of time you would let CC or one of your starters sit during a rain delay and bring him back?
JOE GIRARDI: You know, you kind of teeter on about that 45-minute length. Half an hour to 45 minutes. The one thing that you have to -- that is available for you is you have a cage underneath that you can kind of keep him going. Which we didn't necessarily have before. You had to walk way down the right-field line. And I mean, that's an instinct. You talk about it. But once you get over 45 minutes, you kind of get in danger -- unless you have him throw every ten minutes, ten or twelve pitches in there. But then you have to limit the amount of pitches he throws.

Q. Joe, obviously you yourself plus the core guys have had a lot of rings in that room. How much does that experience and that success count as you move along in the process?
JOE GIRARDI: I think when you look at the core guys, they understand what it means to play at this time of year. They understand what they have to do. There's a lot of other guys in there that have playoff experience. Not necessarily a ring, but a lot of playoff experience. And I think that's real important. But I think it helps them get prepared. I think it helps them to relax in tough situations.

Q. Joe, much has been made in a series like this the layoff, how it affects the pitchers. Looking at some of your hitters aside from Alex and Jeter and Posada, I believe, most of the numbers are about .167 and below against the Twins. Is the long layoff a good chance to hit that reset button?
JOE GIRARDI: Could be. We're not really going to know until we go out there. I was asked that question the other day and they said, "Do you think the layoff is going to hurt them or help them?" You don't know until you get into it. Some guys it helps. Some guys it may hurt. You know, we're going to find out tomorrow and the next day, obviously.
But I thought our guys got good work in the last couple of days. We had guys that hit on Tuesday as well. So I feel good about where they're at.

Q. Joe, you played and coached for managers who had a lot of experience, 20, 25 years. Three years into your managing career in the Big Leagues, do you feel like you've hit your stride as a manager or does a manager ever feel like he has stopped learning how to do the job better?
JOE GIRARDI: I don't think you ever stop learning. Because I think you are always going to be dealt new situations that you have to handle. Obviously, you can pull from some of the other previous situations that you handled, but no situation is ever going to be the same. Because the people that you're dealing with are always different. So to me I don't think you ever stop learning in this game. And one of the things that's always changing is the make-up of your club. One year you might have more power. One year you might have more speed. And you have to be able to adapt to that.

Q. Joe, Dave Eiland had probably an undistinguished career as a Major League pitcher. What are the traits that have made him a good pitching coach for you and why?
JOE GIRARDI: I think one of the things that Dave had to do was he had to fight for everything that he got. He had to tinker and mechanics were extremely important to his success. He had to fight to get up here and to try to stay up here. There's a toughness about him. He's a great communicator. I think he's great mechanically. He's great giving our pitchers a game plan. It didn't come easy for Dave as a pitcher. So I think for him he had to look for every advantage that he could come up with. And probably had to tinker a lot. For most of the pitchers in the Big Leagues, a lot of them are going to be like that. He's able to relate to what they're dealing with.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Joe.
JOE GIRARDI: Thank you.

End of FastScripts

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